A socially distanced garden wargame

Now that you are allowed to meet other people in your garden (at a distance), Anthony and I met up to try a “face to face” wargame.

I decided on Neil Thomas’s One Hour Wargames rules as the weather had turned colder and I felt we didn’t want to play a long game outside. As the time approached, the garden was quite windy and I was concerned that the terrain might be blown around, so I setup the game on a 3′ x 4′ board in our garden Pod which provided a sheltered place for the game.

I had setup a couple of chairs and side tables with dice rolling trays suitably spaced apart – here is Anthony in his General’s seat…

The scenario was Take the High Ground and we used my 25mm Norman and Saxon collection which are based up as 5″ wide units with 6 units a side.

The game started with 2 saxon units on the hill (the objective of the game) and the Normans entering on the southern edge. The game lasted 15 turns.

The other Saxon units arrived on turn 2 and we soon got stuck in to melee across the board – the rules give a good representation of dark age melee with shieldwall halving casualties and melees continuing until one side is destroyed.

I lost a couple of units fairly quickly as they were ganged up on by two of Anthony’s units but was able to pull back towards the end of the game.

It was a very close game in the end with Anthony managing to hold on to the hill and preventing me getting a draw in the very last turn.

We played with the Dark Age rules as written but I would like to try using the Knights rules from the medieval set next time for Norman cavalry to see if that beefs them up a little.

A Bit of Basing

Taking advantage of the warm weather to try and get some of my own figures completed. Specifically getting all of the 54mm Napoleonic collection rebased and the bases finished off.

Took everything outside and managed to complete the 4 stages of basing on a box of Prussians and rebase some French Cavalry horse.

Bases have Brushscape dark sand added, then figure bases and edge of base painted with Desert Sand and a slight dry brush. Then dry brush with light sand. FInally adding flock to cover the figure bases.

This is how I’ve been doing bases since the late 1990s…

On to a box of French Infantry next then Dutch Belgians after that…

North West Frontier Portable Wargame

On Wednesday afternoon my regular opponent, Anthony, and I met up virtually for another game using The Portable Wargame using Zoom video conferencing software. This time I setup a small North West Frontier scenario using my 54mm AIP collection of figures.

The screen setup was the same as last time with a mobile phone suspended above the table to give an overhead view and a laptop position on the other side of the table to give the illusion of playing across a table with an opponent.

The table setup was a little larger than before with a grid 8 deep by 12 wide. There was plenty of rocks providing cover and ruined fort which was the objective for the game. Whoever held the fort at the end of turn 15 was the winner…

The Afghans had 9 units including a 2 cavalry and 3 units armed with firearms. The Afghans have a fire range of 2, but can double move if they roll a 5,6. They are rated as average.

The British had 7 units including a gun. They have a fire range of 3 and count as elite.

The British deployed first and also took the first move, concentrating their Infantry on the fort, the Afghans deployed with a diversionary force on the other side of the river. The river is fordable but you have to stop when you enter it.

In the first turn, the afghan cavalry charged a double move hoping to score an easy early victory but forgot that they wouldn’t be able to retreat, lost the melee and were destroyed..

The Afghans evened up the score after that with a British unit who enter the fort taking hits and also being eliminated.

The melee and shooting are inconclusive for a few turns with just one Afghan unit being eliminated and noone holding onto the fort. But the Afghan diversionary attack on the flank manages to eliminate the British gun without losing a unit.

The British have taken the fort, but how long can they keep it?

The British unit outside the fort are surrounded and finally their luck gives up as they are also eliminated.

There is just one British unit left and they are driven out of the fort by concentrated Afghan fire.

And the Afghans manage to gain control of the fort. Surely it is all over for the plucky British?

But no, on the very last turn (turn 15), the British charge the fort and push the afghans out – thereby winning the game!

It was a very close and exciting game in the end with the British just taking it on the final move.

I have a copy of the new Portable Colonial Wargames book but have some reservations about the new rules as written, so we used the original Portable Wargames rules with sudden death elimination and the ability of the natives to move twice if they throw a 5,6 after moving.

I will put together a post on my throughts about the Portable Wargame and why the original rules seem to suit our style of games rather than the newer ones… We are planning on trying out the new rules in a full game to see how they play.

Gaming using Zoom

As Anthony, my regular opponent, and I are unable to meet up for a game, I decided to try and create a setup which would let you play a game using the Zoom Video Conferencing system. I decided on The Portable Wargame as a grid based game is easier for the player on the end of the video link and it stops problems with movement and fiddling with facing.

The setup was devised after a discussion with my wife, Sarah, who devided a system using bamboo canes across the table which would allow smartphone to be suspended above it.

I setup the table with a grid of letter and numbers down the sides and setup for One Hour Wargames Scenario 4 – Take the High Ground.

The smartphone above the tabel gave the following view enabling Anthony to plot his moves and see the whole table.

I setup a laptop on a chair on the opposite of the table to me so Anthony could see the table from a normal view and it appeared that we were playing a normal game.

Once Anthony joined, we had a 3-way conference call and Anthony was able to switch between the overhead view and the straight on view – though he most used the overhead one.

We used large foam dice for rolss which showed up well and Anthony was able to see them from the overhead camera.

The sides were 4 infantry, 2 cavalry, 1 artillery and a general each. We found that one the small table that the artillery was a little too powerful and for the second game dropped the artillery pieces.

Sadly, even though I was throwing all the dice, Anthony managed to win both games as the British!

But it was a successful test of technology and we are able to have two games of the Portable Wargame while maintaining social distance… We will definitely be repeating the experience.

PS> The photos are rather dark as the overhead lights shone too much on the shiny table tiles and made the overhead view harder to see,

LWR Forum Games Day 2020

The Little Wars Revisited 54mm Wargame Forum held the 3rd annual Games Dy in Woking. The venue was a room in Christchurch in the centre of Woking as usual.

Sadly, this year we had a number of dropouts due to diary clashes and then some last minute cancellations from Coronavirus fears or problems. This reduced the numbers from a healthy 12-16 potentials to just 5 hardy soulds who made it on the day.

There were three games run on the day:

Anthony Morton put on a Rorke’s Drift refight using Little Legion metal figures and the Portable Wargames rules.

I ran “The Relief of Fort Pippin” another game using The Portable Wargame and my own 19th century Blakc Hat Miniatures figures. This was a playtest of the participation game I have been working on for Salute 2020.

Eric and Jonny Kemp played a couple of variations on a Roman vs Celt game using Eric’s own rules (written the night before!).

Although numbers were down, a good time was had by all and people enjoyed the games they played.

Photographs of the games below:


Eric always produced superbly painted figures nad amazing conversions and this game was no exception. One particularly clever trick was taking the Call to Arms romans who are waving thier shields and swords around wildly (in a most unroman manner) and turning their heads through 90 degrees. This was very effective and makes the figures look so much better.

The first game involved a celtic attack on a Roman Watchtower and the second a mass brawl between the two sides.


Anthony Morton put on this Rorke’s Drift game. It used the Command and Colours scenarion from the C&C website and involved 3 waves of Zulus. The Zulus had to kill all British units before the british could destroy a wave (which happened when the Zulus lost 4 units). The closest the Zulus came across 3 games was killing 7 out of 10 British Units.


This was a play test of a participation game. The germans have invaded Camberwick green and are besieging Fort Pippin, a relief force is dispatched from Chigley to save the fort. The game ran for 10 turns and whoever held the fort at the end of turn 10 wins. It was a very close game with the Germans capturing the fort on turn 8 before being thrown back out and then just failing to recapture it on turn 10.

Stuart Asquith Big Wars Memorial Game

Stuart Asquith very kindly sent me a copy of his Big Wars rules after I had mentioned them to him on the telephone when he had rung up to order some paint. I hadn’t had chance to play them up to now but Anthony and I both thought that a game using the rules would be a fitting memorial on the day of Stuart’s funeral.

The scenario chosen was Scenario 25 from the “Scenarios for all ages” book by Stuart and Charles Grant. The two armies are identical and coming along a road from east to west. The aim of the game is to seize a river crossing and deny a crossing to the opponent. The middle bridge is a footbridge only and is not one of the objectives.

We used my 19th Century Little Wars Revisited 54mm figures organised into 8 man infantry, 4 man cavalry units. Both forces were 4 infantry, 2 cavalry, 1 light infantry and a gun.

Curiously, both of us organised our column of march identically! We also both rolled so that the head of the column was level with the first bridge when the game began.

We soon discovered tht artillery was fairly ineffectual in the rules (though we did miss the rule to do with firing at structure which would have made it slightly more effective at infantry hiding in a house).

The first cavalry clash came by the far bridge with the Germans coming off the worst and being wiped out in the two rounds of melee.

The game developed with both sides moving along the river with occasional potshots at the enemy. The British were driven back from the first bridge by the German light Infantry.

The Germans then moved across the central bridge in column and were attacked by a cavalry unit who wiped them out to a man. This cavalry unit then crossed the bridge and wiped out another infantry unit before succumbing to a charge by the remaining German cavalry.

The loss of two units to the cavalry proved to much and the Germans were eventually forced to concede as they no longer had enough forces to hold a bridge.

The game was fun and both of us enjoyed it, having not played the scenario before, but we did have some problems with the rules:

We added an initiative roll to determine who moved first, with all shooting and melee being simultaneous after movement as there is no turn sequence described.

The major problem we had was with Cavalry. Even if we had been using the suggested 10 men Infantry units, they would have still been eliminated by cavalry as Infantry shooting at Cavalry halve their hits, so struggle to eliminate a figure when being charged. Then, in the melee the Cavalry are +2 for cavalry, +1 for charging, +1 for lance against an infantry of +1 for bayonet…

In both melees, the infantry were almost completely elminiated in the first round of combat…

I don’t think we read the rules incorrectly, but cavalry seem too powerful for 1870 onwards.


Press release about the purchase of Dorset Model Soldier below – still feeling a mix of nerves and excitement about the purchase…

We are pleased to announce that as of 15th November 2019 Imperial Miniatures are the new owners of Dorset Model Soldiers, the well known supplier of Toy Soldier Spares and model soldiers based in Portland, Dorset.

We have bought the company from Andy Gibbs, who bought Dorset from the original owner Giles Brown in 2016.

Andy is currently completing any outstanding paid orders he has, and we are arranging to collect the moulds, masters, stock etc. from the Portland workshop around the end of November. New orders can continue to be placed through the Dorset Models website, by phone or post (please note that cheques should be payable to Imperial Miniatures).

We hope to have the business back up and running and processing orders shortly after the London Toy Soldier show on December 7th and provide the same level of service that Giles made Dorset renowned for.

Please note the new address and phone number:
Dorset Model Soldiers , Nyetimber, Norfolk Farm Road, Woking, Surrey GU22 8LF, England
Tel: 01483 855757 (Cheques payable to Imperial Miniatures).

Dorset will continue to be run as a separate website and business from Imperial.



It has been quite a while since I updated this blog. real life has got in the way with a couple of Hospital visits for tests for stomach problems and the recent death of my Mother which has meant I haven’t had as much time or inclination to report on games or actually play games.

I also have been playing fewer 54mm based games recently, which was originally meant to be the focus of this blog.

I have decided to expand the focus and just to blog all the games I am currently playing and projects that are on the go.

I reccently had a clearout of projects in an attempt to focus on projects that I wanted to play and periods I was interested in. This has seen the selling off of a range of projects including everything under 20mm except my own Martian Empires 18mm collection.

I sold a lot of 15mm Napoleonics and ancients and then swapped the rest of my painted 15mm Napoleonics with Ian Hinds of Hinds Figures for a large, painted 20mm plastic ACW collection. The initial idea was to get enough to play Battle Cry ACW with figures, but in the end, I decided to get the whole collection which will allow me to play larger games with other rules as well.

As part of the clearout I also catalogued my painted figure collection and was rather surprised by the totals which are:

4201 Infantry
437 Cavalry
64 Artillery
66 Vehicles

They vary in size from 18mm to 54mm. The largest collections are around 750 25mm FPW, around 600 25mm Lord of the Rings figures and the 500+ 20mm ACW collection.

I have a number of other collections that I am working on and want to bring up to scratch to get on the table. These include:

40mm AWI
I was offered a collection of Front Rank AWI figures for a price that made them irrestible and consequently I bought all 800 unpainted figures for less than £1 each (usually £2.50 each)…

I need to sort them properly into units and work out what I need to add in the way of cavalry and generals but I have painted 2 12 man British units so far for Rebels and Patriots rules.

54mm Punic Wars

This is a long term project to play Command and Colours Ancients using 1 54mm for each block. I have nearly everything I need. The intention is to simply undercoat each side a diferent colour initially and then to gradually get them all painted.

54mm Napoleonics

This is mostly the collection I bought from Andy Duff’s widow, plus some Prussians I bought from Anthony Morton and a few units I had already painted. I need to sort the British out and carve off the wings to make centre company figures before sortng them into units. I also need to add more cavalry – which I have unpainted and in boxes and plan the rest of the additions…

28mm Konflkt ’47
I have a fairly large collection of DUST figures and would like to play K47 with them but need to add a couple of squads of normal WW2 infantry to the Germans and Soviets to start the forces. i have the figures from Great Escape Games and have undercoated them but haven’t started painting them yet.

20mm WW2
I haven’t used this early war collection for quite a while but played a fun game of Bolt Action recently with them which re-awakened my interest, so I need to add some more support weapons and sort out some additional troops.

54mm 19th Century

I am booked in to run a participation game at Salute next year using the Portable Wargame so I need to add to my existing forces to increase them for a 4 player game and I want to add some civilians as well.

So, quite a lot of variety and a lot of things to work on in between painting Toy Soldiers for other people. I am hoping to get the part completed projects to the stage where I can play a game with them over the next year before starting on anything new (such as the 54mm ECW project which has 25 boxes of plastics sitting in the loft!).

First 54mm Napoleonics Game

I bought a large collection of 54mm Napoleonics last year from Andy Duff’s widow (Andy sadly died in December 2017) and I have slowly been working through it making sense of the figures an rebasing them into my planned arrangement for 12 man units based on 4 stands of 60mm x 40mm. The figures are a some what eclectic mix (as Andy himself admitted) and contain a fair amount of austrians repainted as other nations which will evntually be restored to their white coats and correct uniforms.

I have also bought a fair number of Prussians from Anthony who has decided to move to metals for his napoleonic collection.

I now have enough based up for a game and so Anthony and I met up to play a game using Neil Thomas’s Napoleonic rules with 8 units a side.

Each side had 1 cavalry, 1 gun, 5 line infantry, 1 poorer quality infantry, 1 general and 1 officer.

The game worked very well and we both enjoyed it – simple victory conditions were to claim the crossroads or reduce the enemy to 2 units. After a hard fought battle which swung both ways at times, the prussian jagers managed to almost completely destroy the last intact French unit with some lucky die rolling and I admitted defeat.

I need to finish the bases off for the figures but was keen to get them on the table as I always find that playing a game keeps up my interest in a project…

Memoir ’44 Dalek Game

My regular opponent Anthony is a keen fan of the Memoir ’44 system and a Dr Who fan so it is natural that he should want to combine the two. There is a variant for Memoir ’44 for Dr. Who which lets you take any historical scenario and replace the germans with daleks (or cybermen).

So, a couple of weeks ago we convened at Anthony’s to have our second game of the variant (the first one didn’t work terribly well as Anthony hadn’t read all the rules correctly and the Daleks were rather overwhelmed (and underwhelming)). This time we were sure of the rules.

The daleks are treated as Armour and have the advantge of moving further and firing at full strength regardless of the distance they fire at. They can also be only be hit on the armour symbol and ignore the first flag retreat result. In the scenario we played, the daleks had 6 units and a unit of Dalek troopers who didn’t could towards victory conditions. The UNIT side required 4 victory points to win (destroying dalek units) and the daleks required 10 victory points (destroy units or destroy a town).

It was a close fought game and UNIT finally won with their 4th victory point while the Daelks were on 8 points. In retrospect it would have been better on a couple of occasions for me, as the daleks, to destroy a town and risk losing a unit.

Definitely a good variant and one we will play again.

The figures are all 54mm with corgi daleks. The dalek troopers are repainted Star Wars figures.

Post game analysis was had over a cuppa with Anthony’s cat Leonard looking on…